Order and Justice in International Relations

By Rosemary Foot; John Gaddis et al. | Go to book overview

Introduction

Rosemary Foot

The study and practice of international relations records an unending search for an understanding of the relationship between order and justice. For most of the twentieth century, states and international society depicted the relationship as one of tension or gave priority to a view of order that focused on the minimum conditions for coexistence in a pluralist world where conflict was to be expected and, at best, temporarily contained. The pursuit of justice was seen as secondary, and often as a direct challenge to the maintenance of international order.

Three main developments at the end of that century prompted a reassessment of this position. First, the ending of the Cold War led to a renewed interest in the promotion of a just world order because of the presumed collapse of geopolitical and ideological confrontation, and the perception that certain sets of values concerning the well-being of human beings were now more widely shared. Second came a realization that the range of challenges that face us all required greater acknowledgement that we coexist in a single world and that effective and sustainable solutions to shared problems could not be achieved without a concern for justice. Third, globalization both deepened this sense of ideational and material interdependence, and empowered a new range of voices, including non-governmental and other groups within transnational civil society. Such groups were critical of the existing international order and especially of the negative consequences that globalization had brought in its wake. The murderous assaults on New York and Washington in September 2001 themselves sharpened awareness of the harmful effects of globalization: it became apparent how globalized networks had facilitated the work of a transnational terrorist organization, one that had come to conflate globalization with an unwanted Americanization of that globalized order.

This book represents an exploration of the meaning that this increasingly globalized world holds for questions of order and justice. It acknowledges the valuable and important expansion in the normative writing in international and political theory, and especially in writing on matters of global justice,

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